Can people use special wheelchairs to go to inaccessible places?
In “All-terrain wheelchairs arrive at U.S. parks: ‘This is life-changing’: Georgia and South Dakota are the latest states to provide off-road wheelchairs on public trails,” Andrea Sachs and Natalie Compton of the Washington Post provide an account of how wheelchair users are gaining access to previously inaccessible areas by using technically sophisticated chairs. Here’s their lede:
Cory Lee has visited 40 countries on seven continents, and yet the Georgia native has never explored Cloudland Canyon State Park, about 20 minutes from his home. His wheelchair was tough enough for the trip to Antarctica but not for the rugged terrain in his backyard.
Lee’s circumstances changed Friday, when Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources and the Aimee Copeland Foundation unveiled a fleet of all-terrain power wheelchairs for rent at 11 state parks and outdoorsy destinations, including Cloudland Canyon. The Action Trackchair models are equipped with tank-like tracks capable of traversing rocks, roots, streams and sand; clearing fallen trees; plowing through tall grass; and tackling uphill climbs.
“I’ll finally be able to go on these trails for the first time in my life,” said the 32-year-old travel blogger, who shares his adventures on Curb Free With Cory Lee. “The trails are off-limits in my regular wheelchair.”
Damn, I love it when engineering makes it possible for human beings to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. Sure, technology made it possible for people to walk on Earth’s Moon…but this is way cool!
Learn more about the research undergirding work on all-terrain chairs:
Dzierżck, K., Buczyłowski, A., Kamieński, K., Rółkowski, P., Tylman, I., Rećko, M., ... & Turycz, P. (2018, June). Design and static tests of an all-terrain suspension system for electric wheelchair. In 2018 International Conference BIOMDLORE (pp. 1-5). IEEE.
Podobnik, J., Rejc, J., Slajpah, S., Munih, M., & Mihelj, M. (2017). All-terrain wheelchair: Increasing personal mobility with a powered wheel-track hybrid wheelchair. IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, 24(4), 26-36.
Winter, A. G. (2013, August). Stakeholder and constraint-driven innovation of a novel, lever-propelled, all-terrain wheelchair. In International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference (Vol. 55928, p. V005T06A041). American Society of Mechanical Engineers.